Ok. I watched the episode this morning, so I’m all caught up now. Overall, I’m giving this one a solid B/B+. I’ll explain why below.
What Was Good
As usual, the humor. Particularly with Barney, there were a few real laugh-out-loud moments. I loved the whole “Indiana Jones would not look at this body. Her body could melt the face off a Nazi.” “I want to get my face melted off!” bit was great. The line about “Please. Use a tripod. Shaky-cam isn’t artsy. It just looks sloppy” was hysterical, at least to me. (I’m really NOT a fan of shaky-cam.)
Also, the Godfather II references were great. “Cic’! La porto!” and the Don Fanucci outfit that Marshall wears (which, apparently, was real and not just some dream sequence like Ross and I were guessing ahead of time). My only gripes were that (1) Frank Pentangelli actually says “Cic’! A porto,” I think, and that Marshall’s hat could’ve used a bit of work at the brim. But I guess the props department didn’t want to shell out for that nice of a hat. Understandable, I suppose.
Structurally, this was also probably one of the best balanced stories we’ve seen in a while. The Lily/Marshall story was solid and entertaining with good use of Kyle MacLachlan, but also seemed pretty meaningful. Marshall’s work is on the slide-out, Lily’s dealing with her own professional anxieties, etc. And the Barney/Robin/Ted triangle was well played, too. I particularly liked how it seemed all jokey-jokey on the surface, but had a few really meaningful moments. More on that in a bit. But really, I think the thing that worked best about this episode was that it didn’t try to run too many different plotlines at once, and the plotlines it was running weren’t so complex as to compete too much with each other. You just had a solid A and B story, and that was that. For next season, I really hope they try to do more of this. It’s a return to show’s earliest form when you’d usually only have two stories going on at most.
What Was Meh
Marshall’s job being on slide-out seemed a bit of a convenient dodge to me. It worked, but it was just a little too wrapped-up-with-a-bow to me. I’ll allow it, though.
I’m not sure where they’re gonna go with the whole “The Ericksons move to Rome for a year!” storyline. I’m a little concerned that they’re doing this to remove them from the board so that Ted’s left even more alone (which seems kinda unnecessary, given that they have a kid who, by the way, shouldn’t he be headed into toddler territory by now?). The trouble I see on the horizon is that they move them away, only to undo it a few short episodes later. “Oh, it didn’t work out. The Captain got bored, so now we’re home!” I don’t like when shows make major changes and then just hit the undo button, ya know?
Other than that, no real complaints. I didn’t “like” Barney’s behavior in this episode, but I liked it. See below.
General Thoughts (salute)
So. The Ericksons are Romeward bound, per the title of the episode, thereby removing more of Ted’s support structure. While it’s unlikely they’ll stay the full year, I could see the time they’re in Rome accounting for the summer break. Maybe when they get back they meet the Mother who’s with Ted and the first half of Season 9 will be Ted and the Mother jointly telling them how the relationship got started. Say… That’s actually kinda clever, if I do say so myself…
Anyway, so, they’re headed out, presumably after the wedding. And speaking of the wedding, Barney’s getting married in 3 weeks, which apparently puts this episode actually a little forward in time to, like, the middle of the 1st week of May, 2013. Not 100% real-time, I guess. Also, they have a wedding planner just showing up at T-minus 3 weeks? Good luck with that, guys…
Now, as for the real meat of the episode…the interplay between Barney, Robin, and Ted (whom I shall now refer to as “The Triangle” in the interests of brevity and because I think it sounds cool). We’re clearly starting to build the tension in the season, and I can see that Ted busts his hand up due to a fight with Barney maybe. Also, Barney’s reaction to Ted warning him about being too casual with Robin? Dude. Bit of a dick move there, twisting the knife about “You’re not getting married, Ted. She’s marrying me. Not you.”
Could it be that Barney is more than a little threatened by Ted? Hmmmmm….. Maybe this whole “I’m staring at boobs everywhere and making threesome jokes left and right” is all a cover for Barney’s insecurity. Likewise, Robin’s clearly acting like it ain’t no thing, but I think Ted’s right – below the surface, she’s scared, too, and Barney’s cavalier attitude…probably not helping.
I’ve been wondering how they’re gonna deal with those issues, and have been a bit frustrated at how pat the solutions to the various “I don’t trust you” issues have been. How quick and sitcom-easy-resolved-in-22-minutes they’ve been. Robin freaks out, Barney gives a flowery but Barney-esque speech, and all is well again.
Or perhaps not… It could be that all those tensions come roiling to the surface again in the next three episodes. Because, and this to me is the important part, as cool and tough as both of these characters are (Barney and Robin, that is), they are fundamentally driven by insecurity and self-doubt, which only makes them try to act tougher/braver. I’m looking forward to seeing how all of that is ultimately resolved (hopefully by the end of this season and NOT dragged out into the start of next season).
And lastly…Ted. Poor Ted. Have I mentioned that it was a dick move by Barney to twist the knife like that with Ted? I mean, on the one hand, yeah, I get it. Ted’s an ex of Robin’s. And it’s a bit presumptuous of him to be telling Barney how to behave towards his fiancée. On the other hand…Ted’s right. Robin may seem cool with all this, but it’s gotta be eating at her. And Barney is being pretty insensitive (and, to my eye, insensitive in an almost defensive way, if that makes sense). But I really felt for Ted. Josh Radnor played that scene masterfully. Actually he and Neil Patrick Harris both did. It was the perfect balance of cruelty on Harris’ part, and appearing wounded but trying to hide it on Radnor’s part. Really just top-notch acting there.
So, yeah, a solid B/B+. We didn’t REALLY move the story forward, but it looks to me like we laid some important groundwork leading into the final three episodes. Here’s hoping next week continues the streak!